Mapping Educational Innovations for Social and Ecological Justice

Shalini Ravikumar, Savitha Babu, Charumathi  | 2023


Mapping the academic, administrative and cultural design of two alternative educational institutions, this study offers a glimpse into what critical education in practice can mean in contemporary India. Based on interviews with learners and educators, and field-based observations at Baduku Centre for Livelihoods Learning, Samvada and Visthar Academy of Peace and Justice, the report tracks the nature of curriculum, pedagogies deployed, leisure spaces and times, and administrative features that foreground socio-ecological justice. The authors argue that an education that links individual biographies and larger socio-political realities can be liberatory for learners and educators alike. Pedagogic activities that compel one to think rather than deliver content can be empowering. Socio-ecological justice is not a given, even when ideological commitments are clear and sharp, but requires constant work. Administrative procedures, design of buildings and informal spaces, and food choices all need to be thought through. While pragmatic concerns might sometimes mean that a commitment to diversity and inclusion is derailed, institutions that commit to socio-ecological journeys work through slippages, and correct course along the way. The work towards socio-ecological justice in education contexts is always ongoing. Offering individuals a framework to view their lives structurally enables building resilience and collective movement towards transformative societies. With researchers being “critical insiders” to one of the spaces being researched, the study also presents important insights into how feminist participatory action research can be done and its limits.